Joyous occasions in life are few and rare to come and when they come as a surprise, those moments become the real moments to cherish.
Something of that sort happened with us today. It was the first anniversary of our new home, and while we had it in our mind all along, the stress of the daily routine made us forget about the momentous occasion this very morning.
The whole day passed with one thought - is all this stress worth it?
After a grueling 1 hour struggle to get through the traffic, I reached home.
That's when I got a real surprise. My folks who are visiting had made us a treat to celebrate the first anniversary. My Mom had spent a couple of hours concocting a delectable Pahari meal, that comes from the serene hills of Himachal Pradesh. Pahari food is something that I had grown up with. This was the food that my grandmother used to painstakingly and lovingly cook to perfection every weekend.
A Pahari meal is generally had with rice. The meal is kicked off with Maddra - vegetables cooked in a thick curd based spicy gravy, with some rice.
Then comes the daal alongwith a khatta. The khatta is a sour gravy, which is based on either mango or tamarind. The daal, the khatta and the rice are all mixed together into something that tastes absolutely divine. The sourness of the khatta gives a different dimension to the daal chawal.
This time around Mom had made maa ki daal, aloo ka maddra and amchur aur pakodi ka khatta.
While the digestive juices were in a free flow, I diverted my attention from the lovely meal and we waited for Neeti to return and enjoy the surprise that folks had "plotted".
On her return, we had a small pooja, a thanksgiving of sorts. Our prayers were of the silent type - I recited the Gayatri Mantra to myself - this is a prayer for all occasions, which is said to have existed since times immemorial.
The prasad that followed the pooja was sooji halwa. And then came the time to dig in!
What a celebration!
Thank God for giving us a shelter and also the opportunity to enjoy surprises like these!